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TARTAN AMOEBAS - "Tartan Amoebas" - Greentrax CDTRAX133

This is a re-release of a 1993 album, previously on the Kaya label and you can be sure that Ian Green didn't get where he is today by re-releasing just any old stuff - he's always got an ear for what it takes.

This is music at the edge of a crossover, taking the tradition boldy to - well, to Africa eventually on the last track, but via the techno-fringe. There are those groups about - they know who they are - who cross over so much that the original music gets well and truly lost on the way, so they try to compensate by simply turning up the volume. That doesn't impress this reviewer one bit, but this CD impresses him several bits indeed.

The Tartan Amoebas, at this stage in their organic development, comprised Fraser McNaughton on fiddle and Highland pipes, George MacCallum on trumpet, Bob Carter on guitar, Alex Fiennes on bass, Euan Turner on drums and Guy Nicolson on percussion, a line-up that would lead you to expect a bottom-heavy sound, but it doesn't work like that. The top-range instruments are given their full place in the mix and all combine to drive things along at a cracking pace, albeit at the faster end of the scale, but without losing the integrity of the original tunes.

An amoeba's shape is constantly changing, and the current band is being true to its name, but this represents a grand example of its genre - bright, cheerful and lively.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 24 of The Living Tradition magazine.